In case you’d forgotten, and a lot of people have, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was a thing that happened. Guy Ritchie’s fantasy-tinged historical actioner was originally set to launch an entire Knights of the Round Table cinematic universe, back in the days when seemingly every studio attempted to rush a shared mythology to the screen as soon as possible in an effort to piggyback off the MCU’s success. But unfortunately, King Arthur found himself on the scrapheap at the first hurdle alongside Universal’s Dark Universe.
The $175 million blockbuster ended up as the biggest box office bomb of 2017, and one of the costliest flops ever made, after earning less than $150 million globally, with reports estimating that the failure of Legend of the Sword ended up losing Warner Bros. over $150 million. In an interview to promote The Gentlemen, his latest team up with director Ritchie, star Charlie Hunnam reflected on the movie’s disastrous performance and shared his regret that his time as King Arthur ended up being one-and-done.
“I’d like to go back to King Arthur because there’s a lot of things that went wrong during that, and a lot of things that were out of our control. I just don’t think we ended up matching the aspiration, we just didn’t quite make the movie we wanted. The idea was that if it was a success, we would’ve made several of those films, and I’m really captivated by the Arthurian legends and I just feel like we really missed an opportunity to tell a long-form story.”
Not only that, but the Sons of Anarchy star then launched a scathing attack on an unnamed member of the cast, blaming their performance for harming the main storyline of the movie, so much so that the majority of their scenes had to be cut, which could go some way to explaining the often-incomprehensible narrative.
“There was a piece of miscasting that ended up crippling the central story line. It’s actually not in the film anymore.”
No offense to Charlie Hunnam, but King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was plagued with miscasting from top bottom. Hunnam can be great in the right project, but he’s never convinced as the leading man of an action-packed blockbuster. Female lead Astrid Berges-Frisbey gave one of the worst performances in the recent history of big budget studio movies as well, while Ritchie’s ill-advised decision to bring his friend David Beckham in for a cameo is simply horrendous, and almost kills the entire thing.
The main culprit though seems to be Peaky Blinders star Annabelle Wallis, who flits in and out of the story like someone who had most of their scenes cut, but the movie needed a lot more than a better performance from one actress to become anything approaching competent. All that being said, the score by Daniel Pemberton remains a truly underrated gem, and the only saving grace of the whole thing.